Norfolk Showground reveals plan to build 4,000sqm live music arena

RNAA managing director Mark Nicholas has announced plans for a new Norfolk Food Hall and Market Gard

RNAA managing director Mark Nicholas has announced plans for a new Norfolk Food Hall and Market Garden at the Norfolk Showground - Credit: RNAA / Archant

Bosses at the Norfolk Showground have announced an ambitious 10-year plan to make the venue a "flagship destination".

Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), which owns the site on the edge of the city, has already lodged plans to build a £2.5m food hall and market garden.

It has also submitted a bid for a year-round campsite to South Norfolk Council.

But Mark Nicholas, managing director of the RNAA, has revealed a further proposal to revamp a large barn area into a 4,000sqm live entertainment arena.

The currently open agricultural space would be transformed to host live music, conferences and cultural celebrations.

He revealed further plans to utilise the green space surrounding the potential venue, including the launch of a new parkrun and a trail of outdoor exercise equipment.

Mark Nicholas is the managing director of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association

Mark Nicholas is the managing director of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association - Credit: Daniella Booden

Mr Nicholas said: "Our 10-year vision is to show the Norfolk Showground is more than just a green setting. The committee members are determined to move quickly.

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"We would like the showground to be more accessible.

"We have an upbeat message about the exciting future for the Norfolk Showground. We want to bring it to life and fulfil its potential for the benefit of Norwich and Norfolk.

"Increasing footfall is good for the local economy.

"We want the showground to be a flagship destination."

He added the association wanted to push the large green space as an attractive and viable venue for businesses and community groups in the long term.

The managing director added the food hall and market garden covering 1.76 hectares would offer the chance for the RNAA to promote the region's agricultural practises and the seven-day-a-week enterprise would link up with several food and drink producers.

Mr Nicholas hoped the new venture will open in 2023 and will allow community groups to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

He also envisions the site as an education base for school children and various organisations.

Visitors would be able to access the food hall and market garden off Dereham Road, which has attracted some concern from Easton Parish Council in terms of the extra traffic which could be created.

These include safety concerns regarding vehicles turning right out of the main access and the road on to the nearby Premier Inn.

Peter Milliken, vice-chairman of the parish council, said: "The showground is important for the wider community to showcase the county. We want to work with the association to achieve the best possible result."

Mr Nicholas said: "We are very much aware of the potential implication of our development project, not only in Easton but in Costessey and Bawburgh.

"We have engaged to make sure there is constructive dialogue going forward. I don't think the food hall will increase traffic much but it is important we keep talking to representatives of local parish councils in the area.

"We are keen to hear ideas they have got."

He added the Royal Norfolk Show, which brings in £20m each year for the local economy, was adaptable and would work around new additions to the site.

Royal Norfolk Show Day 2 Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Crowds enjoying the Royal Norfolk Show in 2022 - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The managing director said one of the main aims was to make the showground site more accessible and it was important to boost the area because of the increase in housing in the area.

A new play area is under construction on Breckland Road in Costessey. Town Council chairman Dan Burr

Costessey Town Council chairman Dan Burrill - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Dan Burrill, chairman of Costessey Town Council, said: "Hopefully the showground plans are going to be a success. That is a good thing for Costessey.

"There are issues from time to time including traffic and noise from events. We work constructively with the association. If the showground needs to diversify, we wish them well. We want to see it being successful.

"I cannot think of a similar venue that can take events of that scale."

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID. Photo: Submitted

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Archant

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, said: "The 10-year vision is positive because anything that brings in investment into the city and outer region is good."

But he added the showground plans could be negative for city centre trade unless public transport from the showground to the city centre was improved.